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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Art of Listening

In an ever evolving and fast paced society of 'me me me' and instant gratification, it seems we tend to not listen as much as we should. I've experienced it in personal relationships, where I've talked my heart out, and yet wasn't felt 'heard'. I wondered, did they listen to anything I said? You see people screaming at each other over issues in politics and wonder is anyone really listening and trying to objectively understand the other person's point of view? Sometimes in our own enthusiasm to share or let the other person know how we feel, in relation to what they are saying, we may miss something. With friends or family, they may not always want advice, rather they may just want someone to 'listen'.

This phenomenon isn't unique to personal relationships, it happens in business. I started to notice how many times either I was being cut off, or in fact I was doing the same. It seemed as though each person is rushing subconsciously to make their own point. I was particularly frustrated and decided that the first thing I was going to do from that day was to make a conscious decision to slow down. It all begins with you, right? I remain focused on what they are saying, not thinking about what point I want to make, until they have finished their thought. If appropriate I ask questions about whatever they said. This reinforces to me that I had 'heard' them, and in turn perhaps the person on the other end will do the same by slowing the pace of the conversation whenever possible. Being in the moment, and not already jumping ahead to the next point or thought has become something I try to remain keenly aware of.
One of the lessons I've learned in life is we can't change people, but we can change ourselves.

Social experts and therapists always tout communication, it seems as though we need to cultivate the art of listening as a major part of that process.

7 comments:

careerservices.pvamu said...

The blog is great. I have been been practicing the Art of Listening for the past 6 months - my goal for 2009. Great improvement- Have astonished some who felt I was not listening at times. Keep up the good work.

Gisele said...

It's nice to think of oneself as a good listener. I confess to not being as good as I used to be. This is an art that needs to be regained. Otherwise, we all are basically talking to walls!

Thank you for the food for thought. It seems we, attimes ignore the very food intended to nourish the soul and spirit!

lavencedora said...

"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." This is one of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes. How true it is.

I have recently been thinking a lot about this very thing. On the political realm --I am discouraged by what seems to be a downturn in interest in the concept of honest discourse. It takes courage to hear, to seek to understand, to see the humanity in everyone versus vilifying and denigrating people with a different perspective.

Personally, at least we can make some headway in this regard. I congratulate you on your "starting with the woman in the mirror" approach. If we all stop to do the same, we can make significant headway in our relationships . . . which may extend outward into the public discourse as well. Cheers to you for setting your intentions on doing your own little part.

enigma4ever said...

This is wonderful, and you expressed what so many of us have been thinking...when did people lose the art of the talking to each other and listening ?

we do need to listen to our hearts....

and sadly listening is also about watching and learning what is going on around us....
these are some pretty serious dark times...oddly...

continue to be a Voice about love and courage and the importance of nurturing the human spirit...

blog on good woman..blog on...

( I blog at watergater summer, I would love to add you to my blogroll- if that is okay ?)

QH said...

In my recent relationship I'm embroiled in, and even with my family, friends, and business associates, I'm learning to listen without losing my POV. Excellent piece!-QH

P.S.-Did you still want the '89 retrospective article from July that you were featured in? I lost my business address book when I moved with your business address. Let me know!

SerenityLife said...

My professional training has taught me the valuable lesson of listening to all sides of a situation.

I usually am amazed when I find others who sincerely listen and give constructive criticism to those who ask for it.

It's a rare trait.

Thanks for emphasizing this skill on your blog!

Retta said...

I remember meeting you & blogged about it today.
http://www.rettarizzo.com/2009/11/influential-moments.html

Thanks so much!!! You have been an influence in my life & career.

Keep rockin,
Retta Rizzo